The 9 Best Mini PCs to Buy in 2018

Shop for the best budget, over-the-top and customizable Mini PCs

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The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Asus VivoMini

4.7

The Asus VivoMini measures 7.5 x 7.5 x 2.2 inches, but it packs a punch. Gamers will immediately take note of the discrete NVIDIA GeForce GT 930m graphics card that enables 4K UHD visuals for casual gaming. The VivoMini won’t be confused for a full-on gaming PC, but for its size and price, it’s packing 8GB of RAM paired with a 6th generation Intel Core i5 3.1GHz processor and a 1TB HDD. The VivoMini includes 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity as well as Bluetooth 4.0. It also has two USB 3.1 and four USB 3.0 inputs, plus a 4-in-1 card reader and digital HD audio. For icing on the Mini PC cake, the VivoMini supports VESA wall mounting right out of the box for connecting to both monitors and HD TVs.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Acer Revo One

Acer Revo One
Courtesy of Amazon.com
4

The fully equipped Acer Revo One has a 2.1GHz Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM and 1TB hard drive. There’s nothing particularly breathtaking about its aesthetic, but it’s small enough that you’ll set it on a desk and forget it's even there. As with most Mini PCs, the Revo One won’t score off the charts in any benchmark tests, but that’s not its intent. There’s more than enough capability here for day-to-day tasks, but you’ll want to look elsewhere if gaming is high on your priorities list.

There are two USB 2.0 ports on the back for adding a keyboard and mouse, things you’ll want to add on your own as the ones that come with the Revo are not the best quality. There are also two additional USB 3.0 ports for future-proofing and HDMI out for plugging into a monitor and/or TV. And you'll want to use that, because the mini PC comes equipped with Intel HD Graphics 5500.

There’s a lot to like about the Revo One: It’s well-designed and has plenty of expansion capabilities to add more hard drive space as your needs grow.

Best Budget: Dell Inspiron i3050

Dell Inspiron i3050
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Don’t let the small size fool you: Dell’s Inspiron i3050 is a fully functional Windows 10 desktop PC. Slightly smaller than the Mac Mini, Dell’s design won’t win any awards with its simple black chassis, but inside you’ll find a modest 2.41GHz Intel Dual-Core Celeron processor, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage. It comes with three USB 2.0 ports and one USB 3.0 port, as well as a wired mouse and keyboard.

This might be the perfect option if you just want something dedicated to Amazon Instant Video, HULU and Netflix. You’ll still find enough power to run a wide selection of Windows apps, but you’ll need tempered expectations for how well a machine like this can handle. (Don't expect it to run more power-intensive apps like Photoshop and video-editing.)

The low price point doesn’t present additional expansion options but we really can’t argue with a perfectly usable PC that costs less than some high-end keyboards. For just the basics, unless you want to look at learning Chrome OS, you can’t do much better than Dell’s entry-level Mini PC.

Runner-Up, Best Budget: Asus Chromebox

ASus Chromebox
Courtesy of Amazon.com

If basic computing needs and a welcoming price tag are at the top of your Mini PC wish list, the Asus Chromebox might be exactly what you’re looking for (just be prepared to rely heavily on Google docs, as you won't be able to use Microsoft Office).

The Chromebox box is just 12.8 x 8.3 x 2.3 inches and manages to fit four USB ports for a keyboard, mouse and additional items. Overall performance is surprisingly good: There's a 1.4 GHz Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM and 16GB of SSD memory (plus two years free of 100GB Google Cloud Storage).

If all you really need is a sensibly priced small computer to get online and perform basic web tasks, you’ll find the pricing and Chrome OS combination to be very attractive.

Best Gaming: Lenovo Legion C530 Cube

Lenovo Legion C530 Cube
Lenovo 

Small but capable, the Lenovo C530 is a serious piece of hardware in a portable package. It has the latest 8th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processors, 32GB of RAM and up to 256GB SSD, making this computer a true powerhouse. Fully capable of handling the latest in VR-gaming, you have your choice of NVIDIA’s GTX 1060, 1050 Ti, or 1050 graphics card. It will also last you into future, which takes some the sting out of the premium price tag: the C530 is built with one-touch, tool-free access to all the inner workings you might want to upgrade later on.

The exterior of the computer is just as smart as the inside, with an integrated carrying handle that makes it surprisingly portable. A slew of HDMI and USB ports on the back can quickly become a cable nightmare, but Lenovo has avoided this problem by adding a cable organizer in the back (a rare find on mini PCs).  

Runner-Up, Best for Gaming: ASUS GR8 II-T0695

Get a mini PC with gigantic strength and performance in the ASUS GR8 II-T0695. No bigger than a gaming console, this incredible machine is capable of any computing feat, from graphic design applications to running VR games. Its unique tower design contains AURA Sync RGB lighting and an endless spectrum of colors to synchronize effects and transform your room into a futuristic oasis. The ultra-quiet thermal cooling chambers allow the PC to run demanding programs with minimal heat or sound. Play any game with ASUS GeForce GTX 1060 graphics that are NVIDIA VR Ready. A Supreme FX HD Audio with Sonic Studio III make this the ideal center of a home entertainment system, whether you want to game or watch movies.

Best Design: Kangaroo MD2B Mobile Desktop Computer

This deck-of-cards-sized mini PC not only looks cool, but offers a whole suite of features that it’s larger counterparts don’t. Powered by a 2.24-GHz Intel Atom "Cherry Trail" x5-Z8500 processor and 2GB of RAM, it delivers solid performance. If that’s not enough for you, you can add additional storage memory via a microSD card or USB hard drive. On top of that, it has a super fast fingerprint reader, a removeable ports dock and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

At 4.9 x 3.2 x 0.5 inches and weighing under a pound, it’s not as compact as a stick PC, but its larger size means you’ll have more room for ports, plus a built-in battery that gives you four hours of power. It’s perfect for use as a secondary home PC, home theater PC or an on-the-go option for presentations. And the option to connect it to an iPad screen via the preloaded OSLinx app makes it even better for mobile use. As one Amazon reviewer says, it’s “a delightful addition to your IT wardrobe.”

Best Splurge: Samsung DP700

While the Samsung DP700 form factor will immediately catch your attention, this metal-bodied computer is far more than meets the eye. The cylindrical design does a great job of hiding the internal components that include a 256GB solid-state drive that ramps up performance and start-up time. Powering the rest of the computer is a 6th generation Intel Core i5 2.7GHz processor preloaded with Windows 10 signature edition, 8GB of RAM and an AMD Radeon RX 460 video card. The Samsung is more than capable of handling 4K video output for movies and photos. When it comes to movies, the inclusion of a 360-degree omnidirectional speaker manufactured by audio powerhouse Harman Kardon adds a rich and crisp sound to every corner of the room. If design and performance are two of your biggest priorities for a mini PC, the DP700 hits a home run.

Best Kit: Intel Core i5 Mini PC NUC Kit - BOXNUC5i5RYH

Intel Core i5 Mini PC NUC Kit - BOXNUC5i5RYH
Courtesy of Jet.com

This silver-black boxed Intel NUC kit is easy to assemble and fits in the palm of your hands, while still delivering impressive performance. The device has all the connectivity you need, with two USB ports, an ethernet port, two SD slots, as well as an HDMI port. The machine packs a capable 5th generation Intel Core i5-5250U processor that can smoothly run all professional software and applications, while an Intel HD Graphics 6000 card makes this device capable of entertainment as well. 

Tested by

How We Tested

Our reviewers spent 42 hours testing one of the most popular mini PCs on the market. They went through the setup process on their own and tested the features to find out what the flaws and strengths really were. We asked our testers to consider the most important factors when using this mini PC and we've outlined them here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a Mini PC

Size - If you’re buying a mini PC, size is probably pretty important to you. While all the devices on our list are compact, some are more so than others, ranging from the size of a gaming console down to a deck of cards. Often times, the larger it is the more powerful it is, but the tradeoff is up to you.

Processing power - You’ll find that most processors are made by Intel and their power depends on how many cores each processor has: the more cores and the faster the speeds, the more powerful the processor. Depending on your use, though, you may not need the most powerful processor out there.

RAM - RAM, or random access memory, is the hardware inside your mini PC that temporarily stores data. RAM lets a computer work with more information simultaneously, which usually has a big effect on total system performance. So how much do you need? We recommend at least 4GB of memory, although PCs will have an option to add more via a microSD card or hard drive.

Test Results: Asus VivoMini (Best Overall)

4.7

What We Like

  • Very compact

  • 8GB of RAM

  • Quiet

What We Don’t Like

  • Slow to boot up

Our testers agree that the Asus VivoMini has good power relative to its small size. One tester noted that there wasn’t anything “standout” in terms of performance, but added that the compactness and size of the machine “was impressive since it was able to sit on a table next to the monitor.”

One of our testers suggests replacing the regular hard drive with a solid state drive to boost boot times and overall performance, which many Amazon reviewers agreed with as well. You can use the original hard drive as a secondary drive since the cage holds two drives total.

Test Results: Acer’s Revo One (Runner-Up, Best Overall)

4

What We Like

  • Easy setup

  • Lots of storage space

  • Small footprint

What We Don't Like

  • Lag in speed

  • Subpar mouse and keyboard

Acer Revo One
Acer Revo One
Acer Revo One
Acer Revo One
Acer Revo One

Our testers found that this PC was “really ideal for your basic computing” like word processing and surfing the Internet. Its small footprint was also a plus, according to one reviewer: “The machine itself looks very good and it takes up no space,” he said. “I positioned it behind my monitor and completely forgot it was there. It made having a desktop computer pleasant again.” One downside, though, was the quality of the mouse and keyboard. “I was worried I was going to break the mouse each time I opened it,” one tester said, “and the keyboard is not comfortable to use.”